Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine that emanates from India and has been practiced for millennia. A lot of the remedies that Ayurvedic practitioners have used are derived from the principle that what you eat can affect your overall health.
In Ayurveda, a balance is sought to keep your body and mind in perfect harmony. As every person metabolizes food differently, the balance for each person is different. This, in turn, is relevant to maintaining a healthy heart.
Keep Heart in Good Shape
Well, the heart also needs to be in balance to stay healthy. As well as dietary considerations, exercise, stress and other emotional issues also have to be in a harmonious state to keep your heart in the best shape possible.
Those who are sometimes quick to anger (defined as a characteristic of the “Pitta” trait in Ayurveda) will need to use some methods like meditation to keep their emotions in balance to help their heart.
The same goes for those of you who would describe yourself as overweight. There may be many reasons why you overeat, but in Ayurveda, a lot of emphases is put on the awareness of what your body needs to be healthy – and it isn’t the same for each individual.
Some have a big appetite and can digest food quickly (classed as Pitta dosha trait in Ayurveda); some have a small appetite and can suffer from digestive disorders (a Vata dosha trait); and then there are those that have a large appetite but their bodies metabolize food slowly (a Kapha dosha trait). If you are not aware of which type of people you may be, try this Ayurveda test.
The important thing you should take from this is that being aware of what your body needs are critical for maintaining a healthy heart. Indeed, all of us can benefit from taking some basic steps in terms of our diet to making a significant difference in keeping our body and mind in harmony.
- Drinking warm water and organic ginger tea helps with digestion.
- Avoid saturated fats, alcohol and caffeinated coffee.
- Make room for three meals a day in a calm environment and try not to eat snacks in between meals to help avoid overeating.
- Ensure the meals you eat have the right amounts of fresh, organic food and don’t go for processed foods and red meat.
- Use herbs such as Arjuna and Tulsi to aid digestion and help keep your heart healthy.
Medicinal Herbs For Cardiovascular System
Ayurveda medicinal plants have their action on the function of heart and blood vessels. Ayurvedic herbs have the following effects on Cardio-vascular system.
The Cardiotonic effect, the cardiac stimulant effect, and the cardiac depressant effect are exerted on the heart. Hypertensive and Hypotensive effects are related to blood pressure. Plus the effects of medicinal plants on the tendency of bleeding is also described.
Action Of Ayurvedic Herbs On Heart:
- Cardiotonic Effect: This effect is known as ‘Hridaya’ plants as it literally means ‘beneficial for the heart’. e.g. Arjuna or Terminalia arjuna, Hritapatri or
- Cardio-Stimulant Effect: These plants stimulate the heart. e.g. Soma
- Cardiac Depressant Effect: These medicinal plants depress the heart. e.g. Ahiphen
Action Of Ayurvedic Herbs On Blood Vessels:
- Hypertensive Herbs: These increase the blood pressure. e.g. Adrenaline, Soma
- Hypotensive Herbs: These decrease the blood pressure e.g. Somal
- Local Constriction Of Blood Vessels: These medicinal plants constrict the blood vessels. These are usually astringents and help in stopping the bleeding tendency.
- Local Dilators Of Blood Vessels: These plants produce the local dilatation of blood vessels. e.g. Mustard, Jaipal
The Ayurvedic Consideration Of Herbs:
Ayurveda places a very important and central role of the heart. The heart is the seat of all the three bodily senses of humor – It is the center of Prana Vata, it is the center of Sadhaka Pitta and it is the center of Avalambaka Kapha.
The Modern Consideration Of Heart:
Heartbeats as a result of its own activity in SA (Sinoatrial) node of the heart. The electrical impulses generated from this center result in the sequential contraction and dilatation of the heart.
Further, our heart is affected by our brain through the Autonomous Nervous System. The Parasympathetic nerve fibers depress the heart via the Vagus Nerve. The Sympathetic nerve fibers excite the heart.
The heart needs its nutrition – oxygen and other nutrients from blood like any other tissue or muscles, rather more as it is working every second to keep us alive. The heart gets its nutrition via Coronary arteries.
‘Hridaya’ Or Cardiac Tonic Ayurvedic Herbs:
These plants support and strengthen our heart. Their activities are not like Cardio-tonic drugs of Medicine. Most of such plants are cold in active principle like Terminalia arjuna. Some of them are hot in active principle like Vanapalandu, Karavira root, Tamboola, etc.
Ayurvedic Herbs As Cardiac Stimulants:
These stimulate the heart and increase the heart rate. Most of these plants are hot in active principle. They possess hot and dry property. Their mechanism of action is –
- By stimulating the Sympathetic Nervous System e.g. Cocaine, Emotional upsets
- By exciting the nerves e.g. Soma, Suchi
- By affecting the nerve roots or ganglia like Tobacco
- Acting on Cardiac muscles e.g. Caffeine, Hritapatri
Ayurvedic Herbs As Cardiac Depressants:
These substances depress the heart by reducing the heart rate. These possess dry quality. In small dosages, these provide some support and strength to the heart. But in overdosage, they can cause some toxic effects like nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea and weak pulse. They act through the following mechanisms.
- By affecting the Vagus nerve like Vatsanabha, Hritapatri, Nux vomica
- By affecting Nerve ganglia like Tobacco in small quantity
- By stimulating the nerves like Hritapatra
- By affecting the Cardiac muscles like Hritapatri, Vatsanabha
Hypertensive Herbs Of Ayurveda:
These plants increase blood pressure. Usually, they are hot in active principle. Blood pressure increase through any of the following mechanisms.
- By constriction of small arterioles
- By increasing the Cardiac Output
- By increasing the Viscosity of blood
Hypertensive herbs act through the following mechanisms. These plants usually constrict the blood vessels and thereby increase the blood pressure.
- Through excitation of Vasomotor center like Nux vomica, Hritapatri
- Through stimulation of Vasomotor nerves like Soma
- By acting on the vascular muscles like Hritapatri
Hypotensive Herbs Of Ayurveda:
These plants reduce blood pressure. They possess Cold active principle. Fomentation increases blood pressure initially due to heat and later on, it reduces the blood pressure as a result of sweating. These plants are Vaso-dilators. Their mechanism of action is –
- By depressing the Vasomotor center like narcotic
- By acting on vascular muscles like Somal
- By decreasing the volume of blood as after purgation, fomentation, and blood-letting.
Styptics Or Anti-Bleeding Ayurvedic Herbs:
These plants stop the hemorrhage due to their local astringent effect. Styptic plants have two sets of properties.
- Plants with Cold active principle
- Plants with Astringent properties
Hemorrhage Tendency Promoting Ayurvedic Herbs:
These local vascular stimulants promote the bleeding tendency on topical application. They possess a hot active principle. e.g. Alcohol, Sarshapa.
Of course, these are largely based on common sense. The important point is that Ayurveda provides a context to help understand why you need to be mindful of your diet rather than simply keeping to a one-size-fits-all strict dietary regimen.
It is all about balance and making sure that what you eat and how you feel it is beneficial to you and your heart. Making decisions in this light may help you to be more conscious of your lifestyle and assist in maintaining a healthy body.